Campus & Community

The Big Picture: Lama Migmar Tseten

2 min read


Lama Migmar Tseten Photo by Kris Snibbe

At first glance, Lama Migmar Tseten seems out of place in Cambridge, his maroon robes and tranquil demeanor a sharp contrast to the bustling chic and intellectual tweeds of Harvard Square.

But the native of Tibet is at home and at peace. “The essence of Buddhism is the cultivation of spirituality within your mind. So although the outer environment can make some difference, your inner development is more important and the outer environment is secondary.”

Lama Migmar – “Lama” is a title that means master or teacher – is the Buddhist Chaplain at Harvard and the founder and director of the Sakya Institute for Buddhist Studies in Cambridge.

“I help the students who are interested in Buddhism, to give them spiritual cultivation, to do instruction on meditations,” says Migmar. Students, faculty, and staff participate in Harvard Buddhist Community activities, including daily meditation, dharma talks by Migmar and visiting teachers, and celebrations of the two major Buddhist holidays, Bodhi Day in December and Vesak, Buddha’s birthday, in May.

Not surprisingly, Buddhism thrives in Cambridge. “Buddhism is a spiritual practice which is very much based on reason. So people find answers for their doubts and questions,” Migmar explains.

“I think Harvard is a great academic center where there is a richness of lots of intellectual accumulations. But I think those intellectual accumulations should be balanced with spiritual development,” says Migmar. “Then we can be better people who can make a better contribution to the world.”

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